Archive for May, 2009

I’ve always had quite the sweet tooth, but the kinds of desserts I appreciate more are the kind that a good friend described recently to be “mostly healthy, but with a few chocolate chips on top.” I have to agree. I tend to actually enjoy fruit-based confections more than just straight-up sugar-bombs. Yesterday I was hanging out at a cafe’ where a friend of mine works, and he was baking brownies. He tried to get me to eat what amounted to about half a cup of brownie batter. I told him I couldn’t do it, so he brought me out an apple slice with just a tiny amount (I’d say a teaspoon maybe) of the batter spread on it…that’s more like it! It was tasty, and thoughtful 🙂 It was about time for one of my 3 small snacks I allow myself daily, so I charted it in my book as a snack. So I can still have a little bit of chocolate and stay On Program.

Another dessert I’d love to experiment with making would be a whole-grain strawberry shortcake. The “shortcake” of course being a healthed-up version of the “real deal” and the strawberries being left alone instead of sweetened with sugar…cause if you get good strawberries you don’t need the sugar! And instead of whipped cream, some Greek yogurt…mmmmmmm.

cross-posted on my other blog…just thought it had a place over here too 🙂

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Amy Tracks Her Progress is my new blog. It’s more or less an online archive/back-up of my spankin’ new food/exercise journaling/progress tracking program I designed for myself by tweaking a food/exercise journal template I found on The Balanced Weight Management site . Go to my new blog and you’ll learn of how I tailored my new journaling system to work just for me (although it may help others as well). I’ll be keeping a Weekly Assessment page (which is also in spreadsheet form on my PC), as well as my journal entries (which are also saved as Word documents on my PC). It will differ from this blog in the sense that it’ll focus mainly on my personal weight tracking and thoughts regarding weight, whereas this blog’s topics have strayed all over the place (not that there’s anything wrong w/ that).

Also, I have a page on there with pics of myself at various stages of weight gain and loss since 2001. I’ve blocked out my face, as a personal safety and privacy measure (I only show un-masked photos on more “private” venues online where only people I know can see them), but it gives a bit of a visual representation of my battle of the bulge. It also helps me, because sometimes the number on the scale isn’t always the whole story.

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OK so today when I logged in my Top Searches said that the top search is “amy – passed away anorexia.” That’s mildly disturbing. This blog is not about anorexia or eating disorders, though I may cover the topic from time to time. It’s about me losing weight (and I’ve been obese and overweight for all of my adult life, so I hardly feel like I fit the bill for being diagnosed anorexic) and my observations and sometimes rants and raves about the misconceptions and societal weirdnesses surrounding weight and food. Just thought I’d clarify there…

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So my next health and diet goal I’m thinking is to markedly reduce my sodium intake. It’s not something I’ve really addressed as I’m still pretty young and chipper, but I can tell that my propensity to pour tons of salt on all my food is going to come back to haunt me one day. Genetically, I’m predisposed to a laundry list of heart problems, and high blood pressure is definitely a thing I risk from the paternal side of my family. Multiple incidences of stroke and high blood pressure on that side of the family makes me not want to take my chances.

I’ve actually been helping out a couple I know who have a child on the way out with cooking. Neither one of them have the instinctual urge to cook, but appreciate home-cooked food. They essentially hired me to work for them part time, which is awesome. One of the dietary needs I have to look out for in cooking for them is the husband’s high blood pressure, which means the food I cook for them has to be low-sodium. I have a tendency to find foods without salt in them bland. It’s definitely a challenge to me, but I know for a fact that it’s only because my tastebuds are no longer sensitive to salt.

I’m going to start retraining my tastebuds. I want to learn to be content with the flavors of herbs and spices, and get used to food without using salt to cook it. Right now I’m actually enjoying some roasted veggies that I added no salt to, and I’m finding myself appreciating the complexity of the flavors I’ve built with the herbs I used. I used to be one of those, “I like a little food with my salt…” types. But I really want to change that.

An uncle I’m particularly close to on my dad’s side of the family thought he was being healthy when he had his first and only heart attack at the age of 50. Upon examining his diet, he realized that his “addiction” to salt was more than likely a dietary culprit, and when combined with his genes was a disaster waiting to happen. He and my aunt still, 17 years later, don’t add any extra salt to their cooking, except for maybe a small dash of Bragg Liquid Aminos. In addition to that, they broil or bake most cooked dishes, and use maybe 1/4 of a teaspoon of oil (using a brush to brush it around) to pan-sear things. They also eat a lot of raw foods. My uncle’s health has turned around amazingly. He and my aunt also started exercising more regularly after joining the YMCA. My uncle’s blood pressure has stayed in the safe range for years now, and he hasn’t had any other heart problems according to his doctor. They are excellent health-food cooks on top of that! Come to think of it, I know for a fact they don’t add salt to their cooking but it’s always so flavorful that I never feel the need to add salt. Thusly, I’ll be emulating them. 🙂

It felt good yesterday to cook very healthy, vegetarian food for my friends yesterday that also tasted amazing. Not to toot my own horn, but cooking comes very instinctively to me. I almost never use a recipe, and most of my stuff is made up off the top of my head. I guarantee that if you have a well-stocked pantry, spice-rack, and fridge, I can make you a good meal. I do not consider myself a vegetarian, but I don’t eat much meat, either.

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I recently had a discussion with someone who has tried a few times to get into an exercise routine/healthy eating pattern, and always got impatient as far as seeing results. This person also maintained that they never enjoyed it, always felt sore no matter what, and it always felt like a boring chore to them. This person also has a large appetite and gets hungry often, and tends to overeat. This person is not terribly overweight, but very out of shape.

Results don’t come overnight, and sometimes it can be several months before a person starts to see the changes in their body. I think others often notice before the individual does. When you see yourself in the mirror every single day, it can be hard to realize that your body is indeed changing. I for one never thought I’d be dysmorphic about my own body, but for months after I first started I saw the same ole’ fatty in the mirror when other people were noticing visible changes in my physiology. Even recently people are noticing things before I do (namely the fact that I’m starting to have defined hips, etc. and becoming more height-weight proportional).

I asked this person what they did, if they stretched, etc. I came to the conclusion based on their answers that they had thrown themselves into a very rigorous and intense routine too fast, that they weren’t stretching or doing anything else to help sore muscles (hot baths, ice, etc.), and choosing activities that they found inherently boring. This person also hates standing up for long periods of time and maintains that they always get sore no matter what. I had a counter-argument for every excuse this person threw at me, and the conversation got frustrating for both of us so we decided to change the subject. But I ended my points with this person by saying that there has got to be a way for them to eventually find being active enjoyable. It will help this person’s longevity, give them more energy every day, and be beneficial in a huge number of ways. To this person’s credit, they get frustrated with themselves because they know the health benefits of being active, but they feel so helpless about actually applying it to themselves.

So I guess the point of this was to say that people who are new to exercise and out of shape need to ease into a routine. Walking is a great way to start…it’s the first physical exercise most of us learned how to do as toddlers. It can start out slow and go fast. I still do it a lot, I don’t do too much running because of some leg pain I tend to get, but you can burn as many calories power-walking if you do it fast enough, without near the impact of running. Furthermore, stretching is essential. There are a ton of websites out there that can show through pictures and tell you how to properly stretch all your major muscle groups. It’s best to have a bit of a warm-up, stretch, then work out, take a stretch break in the middle (I notice a huge difference when I don’t do this), then cool down and stretch again after the workout. Once the body adapts to regular, mild physical activity, kick it up a notch gradually until you’re used to more strenuous activity.

Exercise is important, but if your diet is craptastic, it’s not going to give you enough health benefits. Some people’s taste buds are so corrupted by junk food that it’s easy to find the taste of healthy stuff “bland” at first because your taste buds are so used to being bombarded by way too much sugar, salt, and trans fats. I highly suggest for people who are having dietary challenges that are blocking them from weight-loss, health improvement, or both to read a great book called If It’s Not Food, Don’t Eat It: The No-Nonsense Guide to an Eating-for-health Lifestyle by Kelly Hayford, a clinical nutritionist. Hayford puts it all forth in a very non-threatening and straightforward way. One thing I respect about it is that she doesn’t preach any dogmatic diet-style (veganism or raw foodism for example) but more discusses the benefits of switching to mostly real, whole foods as opposed to processed stuff. She also discusses how to handle your lifestyle change around family and friends, and the psychological aspects of such a diet change. She has stories of real people and the dramatic, personal changes that happened for them from changing their diet.

To maintain a healthy body weight and good health in general, it is absolutely essential that a person is both physically active AND eats right. The end.

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Well, it’s been a long time since I posted. I realize that there are going to be infinitely stupid things said and thought about weight loss and healthy lifestyles in general, so it might not be the end of my desire to post on here. I’ve had many unfortunate things happen in my personal life in recent months. My friend passed away, both me and my housemate lost our jobs (he was laid off, I was fired). I’ve luckily landed a job, but it doesn’t start until next week so things are tight financially. But either way, it’s been a rough go.

I am not perfect. My weight loss has come to a standstill, and it’s because I haven’t been 100% with my diet and exercise. I tend to cycle through stages where I’m gung-ho and into it, and stages when I’m not. Luckily with diet, I never tend to overeat enough to gain any weight back…but I’m steadily maintaining. I haven’t been into working out lately, either. I’ve definitely had times where I’ve fallen off the wagon with this whole thing, but I’m still walking every day and keeping tabs on my weight. It’s not always easy, especially when I get depressed about things I tend to want to be isolated from people. Ugh, it’s like a battle of wills with myself. But as long as I don’t backslide, I’m not terribly worried. The difference between now and my past is my awareness of this tendency within myself to stagnate. Also, I actually own a bathroom scale and check my weight frequently enough to be aware of it. It’s a manual scale as opposed to digital so I can’t use the “battery died” excuse.

There is definitely more to life than weight, but at the same time I have to remember that my weight is somewhat of a manifestation of my emotional issues. It’s a symbol of falling down and staying down (to me), of stagnating, of not moving forward. I also admit that maybe a small part of me is still afraid to experience the life of a thinner person. I’ve never been a slim adult. Social attitudes and expectations are slightly different for thin people, by my observations.

Old habits die hard. I still feel proud, however, of the fact that I have never given up on this goal, even if I have “taken breaks” from actually really working towards it. I’m still around 30-ish pounds overweight. I used to be around 80 lbs. overweight. That’s definitely nothing to sneeze at, but at the same time if I had been stronger in my will over the last 2 years, I’d have reached my goal long ago.

I think posting in this blog might help me get motivated again. I hope so!

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